30.10.2012 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

International seminar in London to discuss new research from Rio’s favelas

A year on from the London riots, global charities and NGOs will be joined by senior Brazilian government ministers to discuss how new LSE research from Rio’s favelas could provide a blueprint to help the world’s urban poor.

The seminar, at LSE on Friday November 2, will feature Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kid’s Company UK; Rogerio Sottili, Executive Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil; Junia Santa Rosa, Deputy National Secretary for Housing, Ministry of Cities, Brazil; Pilar Alvarez-Laso, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO; Professor Craig Calhoun, Director of LSE; and Luis Erlanger, Director of Globo communication Network, Brazil. International charities present will include Save the Children and Amnesty International.

They will join academics from universities in London and Brazil to discuss research carried out by Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch of LSE’s Institute of Social Psychology to map the causes of social exclusion and identify methods used to help people break free of their backgrounds. The study was supported by a partnership between LSE, UNESCO, and the charitable foundations of Itau Bank, Afroreggae and CUFA.

More than 20 per cent of Rio's population lives in favelas, the hillside shanty towns that for decades were plagued by shoot-outs between rival drug gangs. After winning bids to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Rio has unveiled a host of projects to improve the city, including community-based police units (UPPs) which have begun to pacify the drug gangs in many areas and dramatically reduce crime. Further transforming the lives of favela residents by reducing poverty and inequality so that they can begin to feel integrated with the rest of the city is an ongoing challenge, largely being tackled by grass-roots organisations, which the research has focused on.

The study, Underground Sociabilities, was conducted in four different communities of Rio, including City of God, the setting of the 2002 award-winning movie. Researchers entered dangerous no-go zones, sometimes hearing gunfire, to interview over 200 favela residents as well as the leaders of community-based organisations, the police and other external bodies. They also analysed 130 social development projects.

Professor Jovchelovitch said: “This research has been recognised as a model of social development for Brazil. What it can teach London, a year after the summer riots, will be up for discussion. We will also be examining how the government, the private sector and the media in Brazil have been building bridges with excluded sections of society.”

She added: "Our data shows that the family is central to socialisation, but so are grass-roots organisations that work as parents by proxy. Mentoring people, offering them strong role models and emotional support alongside educational and training opportunities, is what ultimately allows re-writing of life stories. In the favelas, this can mean the difference between being a drug dealer or being an activist - and that, for many, means the difference between life and death."


The seminar will be held on Friday 2 November 2012 from 10am-5.30pm at the Shaw Library, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE. A limited number of places are available for journalists. For media accreditation and more details of the event, please email Jacqueline Crane at j.c.crane@lse.ac.uk

Press contact

LSE Press Office, pressoffice(at)lse.ac.uk

UNESCO in Brazil:
Ana Lúcia Guimarães, (61) 2106-3536, (61) 9966 3287 ana.guimaraes@unesco.org.br

Isabel de Paula, (61) 2106 3538, (61) 9846 8061


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